Day 15: Des Moines, IA to Omaha, NE

Today we went through more rolling hills, long and steep, in a challenging 6,500 feet of climbing today. I must say that I had forgotten how hilly Iowa and Nebraska are. It was nonstop.

We had two events tonight. First we met with the Notre Dame Club of Omaha and told the group about our efforts in the fight against rare diseases. Two incoming freshman joined us—one is going to study mathematics and physics, the other student is going to major in preprofessional studies.

Notre Dame Club of Omaha

Notre Dame Club of Omaha

Later, we had a reception with one of the college’s most generous donors. It was a wonderful evening. I was reminded again how our alumni go on living the Notre Dame virtues for life, carrying out mission with them wherever they go in the world. They exhibit the family traits of courage, loyalty, perseverance, generosity, and magnanimity, and they inspire all of us to increase our own virtues.

I think of our mission and virtues when people ask how the College of Science fits into the Catholic identity at Notre Dame. For me, the synergy is obvious as we are pursuing truth and discovery for the sake of expanding the understanding and well-being of the whole human community. As a preeminent research university, we employ all the rigor of any top-tier research institution, and our Catholic heritage equips us to as an even broader set of questions—including the ethical and moral dimensions—that ensure our work benefits everyone. I recently wrote a reflection on the College of Science’s role in Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition. Here are a few excerpts:

“Catholic universities share in the Catholic identity and participate in the Catholic mission, fully embracing our heritage as a community that affirms the integration of faith and reason, of person and culture, of religion and scholarship, of intellectual rigor and moral responsibility in our research, our teaching, and our service to the Church and to all humanity. We embrace the aims of the Catholic educators across the centuries, dedicated to educate the heart as well as the mind in a unified pursuit of the truth…”

“The Catholic university, with its broad reach and deep commitment to dialogue, has a substantial role to play in modern society. It is a place where academic freedom can be upheld and implemented in its broadest sense, opening our minds to the unity of all life’s dimensions. It is a place where multidimensional conversations can happen that are less likely to occur in some other higher education settings, opening and training both hearts and minds. It is a place where everything is on the table. It is a place that inspires us to find the truth, to have faith in the search for understanding things we cannot see. It is a place where, whether one is Catholic or not, a person of faith or not, they can engage human intellect in the broadest sense. It is a place where learning, pursuit of knowledge, serving others and leading a good life converge…”

“Engaging and expressing our Catholic identity encourages and supports the spiritual formation—the growth in personal identity, well-being and wholeness—of the University’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Catholic universities are places that pay attention to a breadth of questions not always considered in academia, asking not only what we can do and how we can do it but also why and even whether we should do it. This introduces personal reflection and a kind of spiritual formation for each person engaged in the enterprise. Faculty and staff are open and inviting when students desire to engage them in conversations about spiritual issues.  This is consistent with the goal of training the whole person, mind, body, and spirit….”

These are the virtues and values that make Notre Dame such a special place, and I am excited to be part of establishing that rich community more fully in California.

2 Comments so far

  1.    Jodi Doane on June 11th, 2015

    Good luck, I passed you this morning on Bellevue, NE on my way to work.
    I was curious and looked this up.

    Safe travels through Nebraska.

  2.    Rich Taylor on June 11th, 2015

    NPC Research conference starts this afternoon. We will be thinking about your efforts and look forward to your call tomorrow. Stay safe.